Category Archives: Final Year Blog

Dan’s Final Year Blog

Well everyone, I’m afraid this is it, my final blog post as a student at The University of Manchester.

I know, right, how will you ever be able to cope?

For me, term finished a while ago, on June the 2nd, but as you might expect, only now is my clarity of thought sufficient to really have a proper think about what that means. Everyone else has been seemingly over the bloody moon about finishing Uni, but having had some time to think about it, I’m not sure I’m quite as elated as others. I mean, these have undoubtedly been the best three of my twenty one years, and I’m not sure I really want them to be over… That having been said, I have, potentially, finally reached a point in my life where I will never have to sit another academic exam again, which definitely is something to be celebrated! For those of you who are unaware, the  exam season at the very end of your life sciences degree is a little different to all the other ones at uni, because as well as your lecture unit exams, you are also subjected to two extra types of exam papers that you’ve never sat before.

The first of these is what is known as the “problem paper”, where you are given a section of a recently published research paper and you have to analyse it. The university usually give you one that’s probably been discredited, or has a lot of mistakes in it, so there’s a lot for you to talk about, if you can spot all the errors. Then you’ve got to write an abstract, and do some mathsy bits as well. Different courses have slightly different formats than Neuroscience, but you get the idea.

The other is the “essay paper”. Slightly shorter than  all the other finals you sit, this exam presents you with an indeterminate number of questions, that can literally be to do with anything in your subject area, from anything you’ve studied over the past 3 / 4  years, or even from the wider outside that material you have studied. You then have an hour and a half to write an essay on just one of these topics. Depending on how much of a stress head you are, the fact that you can’t really revise for this exam as extensively as you can for normal ones may be a calming notion, or one that sends you into a dizzy frenzy. I think I coped pretty well to be fair! Problem paper was a bit of a shocker, but I was able to write a pretty reasonable essay on an exciting new therapy for people with spinal cord injuries, that was pioneered in Poland a couple of years ago, which was able to restore a man’s ability to walk after he was paralysed following being stabbed in the back. Quite a nice note to end my uni career on I thought…

Goodbye Uni

Goodbye Uni

The rest of that day after the last exam involved almost everyone on life sciences outside in the sun, in one big celebration. To start with though, I had some time to myself so I could have a moment of peace to call my parents and my grandma, and enjoy being a free man without having to deal with the throngs of other over excitable people. Then, NeuroSoc put on a free lunch for all its departing members, affording everyone the chance to line their stomachs with butties and muffins before heading over to the SU, or to the grass outside the learning commons for some sun and a few drinks. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many prosecco corks pop off in such a small space of time, really made me feel  sorry for all the sociologists who were sitting out there still trying to revise, or all the mathematicians who had to look out of the learning commons windows at us all. Actually, to be fair, I didn’t feel sorry for them at all, but I bet they were green with envy.

After the last exam!

After the last exam!

NeuroSoc Class of 2016

NeuroSoc Class of 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A brief dinner stop provided some rest before  an emotional pre drinks, where we sadly had to wave goodbye to one of the other senior ambassadors, who leaves for a year-long road trip across the USA in a couple of days – an a amazing adventure, but quite difficult to say farewell so early after we finished!

BBQ

BBQ

The day after that proved to be slightly more relaxing, with a full days BBQ in the sun and playing music. Then it was on to Banana Hill x Dimensions festival at Hidden, in North Manchester – a great venue, but quite a trek from Fallowfield.

 

 

 

And so on to the next set of adventures really… Once the rent’s up on the Mauldeth lad pad, my Dad is renting a private plane to fly my mum, bother and I around the Caribbean for a bit, before stopping off at Tampa bay and Universal studios for roller Coastering before the parks fill up once the school holidays hit. After that, grandad’s 80th birthday celebrations in Portugal and finally some interrailing with my best gal, when she’s finally back off her placement year in France.

Even that though, is looking a little too far ahead, with a good three weeks left before I have to move out, Manchester still has lots to offer the departing students… Great chances to dress up, at the Faculty of Life sciences ball and Graduation ball, as well as dress down, at Parklife and Pangaea festivals.  There is also the slightly more intimidating prospect of results day and possible viva exams on the horizon. A viva is an interview-type examination for those who are teetering on the grade boundaries. I think I might be one of those people, so fingers crossed I get a viva for an opportunity to get my grade up to a first!

However, there will soon come a time when a source of income is going to be needed, even if it is just to save up for a round the world ticket… the best option looks like a job back home in north London, working as a Teaching Assistant for kids with learning difficulties in a school in Finchley. If I don’t get that then I still won’t need to worry – I know there’s variety in my options, whether I want a Neuroscience related career or not. That is all providing, of course, that my impending call up to MI6 arrive! Hopefully world’s greatest secret agent is enough to get me into the UoM alumni hall of fame..

That’s probably enough rambling from me. This feels rather strange really, trying to come up with a decent closing statement to sum up leaving university, I doubt many people have to actually put something down in words, as opposed to just having tipsy “I love you”s with everyone! I would definitely say that these have been my best 3 years so far, and Manchester was definitely the right choice of University, not just for the Uni, but for the city too. There’s enough of a student community here that you can live in a nice student bubble, but the city has a great identity outside of its studying population, with so much always going on. As for the Uni, I’m sure I’ve banged on about employability before, so for one last time, it is an underlying theme through almost everything you’ll do here, and I’m definitely coming away feeling well equipped to tackle anything, and looking forward to doing so!

For those of you who have been reading these blogs and considering Manchester as a serious option, then look no further – if I can make it here, then you definitely can!

Thanks or reading the posts, I’ve had a good laugh writing them, and last but not least good luck to you all!

Take care, lots of love,

Dan.

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Dan’s Final Year Blog

Hello everybody and welcome back. Oh how I have missed you all, I hope everyone had a good Easter and that I find you all well today!

Let’s get right to the point – it is a momentous day on which you join me, for it is the day that I have submitted my Final Year Project report. *Rapturous applause* Please though, hold your congratulations… No but really, that is quite a big thing right there. Me, myself, I, the one who rarely even knows where I am, let alone what day of the week it is, has managed to fire off a 19 page report a whole 2 days before the deadline! Who’d have thought that would happen!? Now I have a whole 2 days to send irritating snapchats to people who haven’t finished yet, reminding them of the misery in which they still reside… Haha!

I think the last time I was on here talking your ears off was the day before my exhibit at the museum, on which my entire project was based… You’ll all be relieved to know that the exhibit went really well, loads of budding young future scientists coming in to learn from me about their vision and their eyes. It’s a lot of work though, hosting a science fair stand, believe me! It might look like we’re just standing about confusing little kids, but that volume of talking and gesticulating is pretty draining, even for yours truly. The public loved the Body Experience event so much in fact, that the organisers told me that people had been asking for it to be held for a second day! Even the little post it notes on my feedback board were good. Kids as young as 5 or 6 saying they “loved it” or that it “opened my eyes” – great vision pun whoever wrote that one! One person even wrote “Dan is fantastic”, and before you say anything, no it wasn’t my mother, who did, of course, insist on showing up to the exhibit. Luckily all my friends were too busy to swing by and see me in my “I am a Drosopholist” T-shirt.

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So anyway yeah, project is done, leaving my only 40 credits worth of exams to go, that’s only one ninth of a three year degree left to do, that’s what I call progress. Obviously that now puts me in the no-man’s-land of wanting exams to be over, but not wanting Uni to be over.. At least the timetabling gods have had the good grace not to put an exam on my birthday this year, as they have done every year of Uni so far.. There’s one on the day after instead… thanks. They have also had the great idea of timetabling the only three compulsory Neuroscience exams for this term all on consecutive days at the start of June, not sure how I feel about that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Blah work work work work work, what else has been going on? Well you’ve all been on Easter holidays haven’t you, I hope they were more productive than mine. I had the best intentions, I really did, but as I’m sure you can guess, not a lot got done. I did have a lovely trip to the south of France though. A friend of mine from the trip I took to China last summer is on her placement year in Montpellier so I had Easter weekend down there, on the beach. It was pretty nice, not going to lie. It’s very picturesque, Montpellier, really pretty. Good food, good wine, good sun so all in all, can’t complain. Other than that, a pretty uneventful Easter, with the exception of a night out in Camden dressed as the cast of Archer… I was Archer, obviously.

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We final years, or Golden Oldies are we are also affectionately known, haven’t had lectures in life sciences since the Easter hols, so not much else to report academically I’m afraid. All our lectures for modules in second semester take place in the first half of the semester, so that we have the whole of the second half to devote our time to our Final Year Projects. I have had to do presentations about our projects for tutorial, but they’re never really an issue – I love getting up to talk and our tutor, is always a great audience.

What else is coming up? Well final year project hand in deadline will come and go, and then it will be senior ambassador’s end of year BBQ at Professor Sheffield’s house! Weather permitting obviously, but whatever happens, we all know that it will be a good night – if there’s anyone in the faculty who knows how to have a good time, it’s the staff!

The other big thing to look forward to of course is graduation in the summer. Still trying to decide on what type of dance to do while I’m up there to be honest… open to suggestions from the audience at this point. However before having to head out into the real world to be a real adult, I’ve got lots to look forward to in Manchester before I leave – including festivals Pangaea and Parklife!  Then I think the most grown up option at the moment is looking like a graduate scheme at the Wellcome trust, which seems pretty tasty, good benefits and only half an hour from home (it’s in London Euston).

All that though, is still a world away so wish me luck getting there, and I’ll speak to you all again soon!

Lots of love,

Dan xX

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Dan’s Final Year Blog

Hello everybody, hope you’re well, and welcome back.

Welcome back, that is, to perhaps one of the busiest times of my year.. Rather scarily, tomorrow is the day I’m due to present the exhibit for my final year project. It’s all getting a bit hectic and flustered at the moment I’m afraid!

Just to give you a little context, it’s actually less of an exhibit, rather a stall. Saturday 19th March marks The Body Experience at the Manchester Museum (click link for more info). This is a free event as part of National Science Week, which invites children of all ages into the museum to explore a range of different activities all about the human body and its fascinating components. I am now an official contributor and will have my very own stand, all about vision, the eye and how you see. Science fairs are always hard to have a really big impact on because you only have very limited time with everyone who comes through, as they all want a bit of everything. Hopefully though, it’ll be a good time to really sell neuroscience and inspire some children to get into science and/ or university. I don’t think it’ll be too much of a challenge, I mean vision is quite interesting, and one of the cooler phenomena your body produces. I reckon it would be a hell of a lot harder to really get school kids interested in biology if you had to present a stand on hair, or toenails, or armpits as your selected body part! At least with eyes there’s a bit of everything science wise – the physics of light waves, the chemistry of phototransduction, and the biology of visual processing in the brain.. I don’t know, have I convinced you yet? If not, get down there this Saturday and learn some stuff about neuroscience and vision haha!

The great thing about having an education project like this, is that there’s a much greater spread of marks throughout the project – you can get points for your resource (the fair stand in my case) as well as the report, whereas people doing lab projects have their entire grade riding on their report (20 pages that I’m not looking forward to writing!). Let’s just hope everything works on the day, because there are loads of potential disasters waiting to happen… I can see only too vividly a vision of my demo containers breaking and the entire museum being filled with irritating little fruit flies going in everyone’s eyes and blinding them..  although that is still kind of on the same topic!

What else, oh yes, results came out, since my last post. I’m very pleased with my results from my 4 exams, and with my Lit Review, my January average just about scrapes into a first. So who knows, if the rest of this project goes well, we might be on to something big..

Now, it wouldn’t be a Dan blog if I didn’t manage to throw in something about the Albert Hall would it..? This time we took loads of the Life Sciences Ambassadors up to check out the new craze that is Bongo’s Bingo. Normally, I feel like people associate bingo with the elderly, tea and scones. I was the same. “Was”. Now all I can think about when someone says bingo, is loud music, flashing lights, pitchers, and hundreds of people going mad for The Vengaboys. Hopefully readers will be able to cast your minds back to a time when The Vengaboys were actually a thing, and therefore hopefully appreciate quite how surreal it would be to have them banging out the tunes at a bingo night! Hopefully all the ambassadors made the most of it because we’ve only got one week of it left to go! This makes me very sad, I’m probably going to break down and tell Professor Sheffield I love her, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. The end of the ambassadoring season does, though, give us seniors the opportunity to embarrass and humiliate each other and the juniors with some end of year awards, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

ducie group

Well deserved post visit day pint

On to sport now, the grand slam is still on for England in the six nations..! It was a very tense and very noisy Friendship Inn (a popular student pub in Fallowfield) on Saturday, as we took the triple crown against Wales, only France left to play, but it won’t matter if they can’t beat Scotland.. it’s all very exciting, just trust me. If we win the six nations, I might not feel so glum about the persistent disappointment that is my beloved Arsenal..

There is however, a more overriding issue to hand that is perhaps more worrying than final year projects, the six nations, and football together, and that is the fact that there is only one week left of term before Easter holidays, and then it really is almost the end of university. Well, for me at least. And whilst that means the stream of parties and holidays that will follow the end of term is drawing nearer, one cannot help but look back, rather than forward, at all that Manchester has been able to provide over the years. Now I know if you have been reading this blog, it might have been very easy to just sit back and say ‘well this guy’s just a delinquent, why should I listen to him?’ Through these blogs, I hope that I have been able to show you the wide variety of things there are to get involved with at The University of Manchester as a Life Sciences student, socially and academically. This is a high quality university and an exciting city with endless things to do, and an ideal place to be a student. There aren’t many places that will be able to encourage study, as well as all the tomfoolery.

Anyway, wish me luck with the project, and I’ll see you all when I get back from France in the Easter holidays.

D xx

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Dan’s Final Year Blog

Well hello there again lords and ladies, hello and welcome!

I hope you have all been keeping well and behaving yourselves since I was last on here and have been waiting with baited breath for my next update… Haha, didn’t think so! You might think that blogs this time of year can often be tricky to write because, usually, all that has happened since the last one is exams. But you’re forgetting just how much I love talking about myself for extended periods of time!

So let’s just get the exams bit out of the way first, as I’m sure you’re all fed up of hearing us moan on here about how much we all just want to boil our own heads every January. Final year exams are all essay based and the marker has to evaluate how much extra reading you’ve put into your revision (and therefore your answers) to award you the minimum 2.1 mark (60). Therefore it’s a bit more difficult to judge how well I did but as it happens, I feel like this exam season actually went quite well. The worst part of it was that I had to sit my last exam of the season on the Friday afternoon when most of my other friends had already finished and were out celebrating! However, I did survive to fight another day, and there are now only 4 more exams standing between me and graduation, which is both exciting and terrifying to think about at the same time.

To celebrate the end of the exam period, I went to an event at the Albert Hall in Manchester City Centre called Kurupt FM. On the Saturday, we went to a ‘Pangaea Festival’ which is hosted by the university’s Student Union at the end of exam period. This year the theme was ‘retro gaming’! We’ve been to lots of Pangea festivals and so we had planned to enjoy our last one together as a group…so naturally, within 3 minutes, everyone was lost! But it was a great weekend!

It’s also the time of year when people all start having their 21st birthdays! My housemate kicked off the spree with a night out in Fallowfield before we decided that it would be far better for society as a whole if we remained confined to the house. For the second birthday celebration, we travelled to Coventry, for my Neuroscience course-mate’s joint 21st with her Mum’s 50th. The road trip down was a great laugh although I wasn’t too impressed that I missed the majority of the England v Scotland Six Nations Rugby game! I also thought it was very brave of my friend’s parents to let all these strange students into their house for a night, but a great night nonetheless, with a live band and a free curry. The next big scheduled 21st is an old schoolmate’s in Leamington – I’ll let you all know how it goes but if he’s serving the same cocktails as on NYE, then I might need some help.

coventry

Coventry

the righteous amongst us cheering england (2)

The righteous amongst us cheering England

What else has actually been going on then..? Oh, well it’s project season after all. Final year projects are the single most important piece of work you do as an undergraduate, taking up 40/120 credits in a year weighted as roughly 2/3 of your whole degree. Feedback on my lit review (worth 10 credits) has so far been positive which is a relief because I put in a lot of effort with it and tried my very hardest. Now though the real project starts, and I’ve been signed up to present at one of the upcoming ‘Science Outreach’ events at the Manchester Museum in a few weeks, so be ready for some shameless project plugging and promotion in blogs to come.

Ambassadorial work started again the week after exams finished and over the next few weeks, prospective students will be interviewing for all Life Sciences and Optometry courses so these are really busy days. This means that me and the other Senior Ambassadors have to be on top of our game. Luckily, we have a fantastic team who are enthusiastic and dedicated which helps make sure that the days run as smoothly as possible. It’s going to be tough for us to recommend  people for the next senior team as there are so many great ambassadors to choose from.

Not much else to report I’m afraid. I’m sure I’ll be in touch soon with some more unique insights. In the meantime, stay safe, peace and love, and all the rest of it.

Dan xx

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Dan’s Final Year Blog

 

Yes, me again. You thought you’d heard the last of me, but no I’m afraid not! Before I begin my first rant of the year, I hope that everyone had a delicious Christmas, that Santa visited, and that everybody spent their New Year’s Eve behaving incredibly responsibly and not at all embarrassing themselves.

Mexican

Our Mexican Christmas

But, unfortunately, the most wonderful time of year has swept by already, and it’s going to be a sad old wait until we can once again enjoy pigs in blankets and those Lynx box sets that you always receive from estranged relatives you didn’t know you had. Although (and I’m starting my rant now) I didn’t even get a single pig in blanket this year! I know, right! What happened you’re all thinking!? Well I’ll tell you.  Before I even got home from Manchester for Christmas, my family made a communal decision, which clearly wasn’t communal because I wasn’t there, that they were fed up with all the faffing about that  comes with putting together a full Xmas dinner and couldn’t be bothered this year. As such, Christmas dinner was to be a Mexican fiesta of fajitas, Doritos, and in my case; lots of margaritas. But, I pleaded; I’d really like pigs in blankets anyway! So make them myself I did, put them in the oven I did…. but, 7 episodes of Archers and a long game of poker with my grandparents later, they were too burnt to eat and I was very upset.

 

Then it dawned on me, that there was something I was supposed to be doing over these holidays… Oh yeah, revising for my January exams! However, this year, I have managed to keep a lid on my revision stress fairly well. The issue this year, is that final year exams are all essay based, and we have (usually) 2 hours to answer 2 or 3 big, long essay questions. This means, that the strategy that I (and probably you too) used in the past, of just memorising a list of facts, is not going to work again. Thus, a new plan of action needs to be adopted, in which the hero (me) is suddenly able to tie information from various sources and perspectives together in an eloquent and plausible manner. I feel the best revision tactic for this is to get the entire mess of tangled, mismatched information from all unitsout of my head and segregated into sections on the wall. For this, I use a trillion drawing pins and one of those never ending rolls of paper that they use on blue peter/ smart attack type children’s shows (that I never used to be obsessed with as a kid because I’m cool). You get extra marks for incorporating information from other units or any additional reading you’ve done! So this way, rather than trying to revise a zillion individual facts, you can revise the map like pattern between all the topics… smart huh? Well I’ll let you know around the end of February when all the bad news gets published.

But in all seriousness though, for all of you stressing out there, you’re probably doing better than you think. It’s always surprising how much you can actually remember under pressure. It has just  now dawned on me that by the time people (or person) might be reading this, exams may be over, so I hope you all did well.
Despite the fact that we should all probably have spent December and January with our noses in our books, I’m willing to bet some of you didn’t, and that at least some fun was had… I hope. We did our best to contribute some festive stupidity to the pool: a 21st birthday party, and a chief among which was my house Christmas curry (in a new restaurant this year). After a pack of ridiculous A4 sized playing cards and a blow up doll with Ainsley Harriott’s face on it, we might have to change restaurants again next year.

 

This Christmas, I also made my first ever trip to Wales! I visited Cardiff to catch up with one of my friends from this summer’s China placement, which I may have mentioned previously (remember I kept telling you how awesome it was) and it ended up being a nice break from revision.  I also got to see Star Wars which by the way, actually managed to be a really good film, much more like the originals than episodes 1, 2 and 3. It’s littered with not so subtle references to all the other films, without being too cheesy. But for those of you who haven’t seen it, I shall say no more.

Anywho, I’m going to get back to my procrastination now, so once again; Happy New Year, good luck, and I’ll see you all on the other side.

Dan. Xxx

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Dan’s Final Year Blog

Well hello there Lords, Ladies and esteemed guests, and welcome back to another year at The University of Manchester, for the big one: Dan’s final year blog. I sincerely hope you guys all enjoyed reading my haphazard bit and pieces last year and that you all had a good summer.

So here goes for final year, hope you all enjoy and erm.. wish me luck.

Go to uni they said… It’ll be fun they said… You’ll do well they said… Up to now that’s pretty much how it’s been, the good old council of ‘they’ had seemed to be telling the truth. This year though, the rules change. Apparently, you can’t spend third year having lie-ins, singing karaoke and getting Chinese take away at three in the morning.

However, true to form, I have been doing my best to ignore all of the above. After the breakup of last year’s penthouse crew due to people going off on placement, I have had to, once again, change house and housemates. Luckily, my choice of mates is impeccable, and so we have been doing our best to keep some of the fun alive as third year gets underway.  Antwerp Mansion, Athletics Union and The Ram don’t seem to have suffered too badly for our summer absences. But the most useful watering hole in Fallowfield this year has been the Friendship Inn, by a country mile. Their comprehensive coverage of the rugby world cup made for great viewing, even if England’s poor performance did gift my Welsh and Irish friends some ill-deserved bragging rights. Also, and I’m not sure if I should be shouting about this, but live-band karaoke at The Ram has started to become a thing these days… Make of that what you will, but needless to say, there has never been a rendition of “Stacey’s Mom” quite like mine. The Warehouse Project is also still going strong, with Skepta and Run The Jewels playing excellent sets, and Hudson Mohawke to come in December.

But as ever, a great range of less intensive activities persist in Manchester. NeuroSoc have really upped their game this year with some more varied socials, including but not limited to bowling, curry and an upcoming battle of the sciences (pub) quiz. Course societies are still a great way to catch up with those people you tend not to see in lectures.

Neurosoc social

Neurosoc social! (Me on the left)

I also had a lot of fun trying out for The University of Manchester Tyrants American football team, who are a great laugh (and who are currently three wins for three this season, just saying), but who’s training unfortunately clashes with the open days for which I am a student ambassador, which is a shame. Oh and speaking of student ambassadoring, guess who got hired as a senior ambassador this year… Haha yes, they actually picked me! No I don’t know what they were thinking either, but it has honestly been such a laugh so far. The other seniors are an absolute riot, we really are a dream team this year, and for the first year ever, we as seniors had to run the training day for all new ambassadors. Everyone else has been performing very well since then, so hopefully our breakdown presentation and all smiles strategy is paying off. Either way, there have been no disasters yet, so I can only assume that things went well… but fingers crossed in any case that we have been able to persuade plenty of people to put Manchester down as their first choice! Within faculty jobs like the ambassador one really are something I can recommend: you get to work as part of a great team, looks great on a CV, develop all sorts of transferable skills, and they always yield a great new crop of mates.

But enough about how awesome of a FoLS ambassador I am, it’s time to talk about work I’m afraid, and yes there is a lot of it. My final year counts for, I think, two thirds of my whole degree, and so is kind of a big deal. And the biggest deal within that big deal is our final year projects. Last year you had to listen to me moan about my dissertation, this year I’m going to be moaning about my project. A lot. Luckily, my project supervisor is a top researcher who heads up a number of science outreach programmes, and has been very helpful so far. As it turns out, I’m going to be doing an educational project that will revolve around using the common fruit fly Drosophila as a model organism for teaching and expanding the public appreciation for neurosciencey concepts. First though, I have to write a review paper about something vaguely neuroscience based, that involves the fruit fly. Those of you who wish to know more about my “Compare and contrast the visual organs of mammals and insects” lit review should get in contact, so I don’t bore everyone else to death. Other projects are available by the way! In your final year you can work in the lab, or in science and education/ science communications/ bio-modelling/ or you can develop an ‘e-learning resource’. The initial choice is always yours; the choice of subject and the type of project and then the uni do their best to accommodate everyone. Lab projects are probably the most common, but I elected not to do one, largely because I can’t sit still for that long and fancied something a bit more ‘up and about’.

So, so far, final year has not quite been the nightmare it was billed to be – relations with Chicken King are at an all-time high, the new house is decent, and with a bit of proper work this year, I should finish up with a decent grade!

Oh also, just a quick note about summer – Although not strictly ‘uni time’, I should let you all know that I went on a three week, faculty organised exchange programme to China over the summer. This was a very good decision, as it was the best thing I’ve done uni related. So 7 of us, 4 from this uni, went on a cultural and educational exchange with a university in Nanjing. It was so good, it was marvellous out there. We had 3 weeks of 40°C heat, learning about Chinese culture, medicine and healthcare. Very interesting educational aspects, massive heat, stunning food, jaw-dropping sights, a slightly fortuitous business class upgrade on the way home and an all-round kick-ass adventure. We had lectures while we were out there during the day, but we didn’t have a project or homework to be doing, so 9am – 5pm we were at uni but then we could go away and do our own thing – so we did lots of exploring! The luckiest part is that I nearly didn’t apply! Definitely something to think about if you feel like you might be Manchester bound for uni…

Anyway, I’ll shut up now.

Much love to all,

Dan Little.

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Eleanor’s Final Year Blog: The Homestretch

Hi Guys,

This week was the week that the sun officially arrived in Manchester, its super hot outside, skies are blue, there is not a cloud in the sky… and everyone is inside doing their dissertation or lab report (Yay final year!) Despite the high-stress levels in the day the majority of people still find time to let down their hair in the evening where every bar in Fallowfield with outside seating is filled to the brim with students. If there are two things that students react well to, it’s sunlight and alcohol. Personally, I also have the major advantage of living right by Platt fields, which means that when I eventually do surface from my project write-up I get to take my lunch breaks soaking up the sunshine in the park.

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Breaks in the park = Heaven

Speaking of lab reports, 35 pages of portfolio later and I am on the home stretch. All the extra work that I put in at Easter has paid off as I’m set to finish a few days before the deadline. My housemates have all had similar projects that finish at the same time which means that this weekend is going to be… celebratory to say the least. I’m not going to lie; this Science communication project has taken a lot of hard work, but I’m really happy with the result. I would 100% recommend doing one if you aren’t too keen on working in a lab. I’ve learnt how to film and edit videos, use software that didn’t even know existed, and learnt how to communicate science to a whole load of different audiences. If that doesn’t persuade you to do one then I should probably mention that it is a also huge CV booster as you have to manage project yourself, set your own deadlines, and you pretty much get creative freedom over how you want to pursue each piece.

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Eleanor’s Final Year Blog: My First Experiment

Hi guys,

This week is British Science week, and you might have seen the hashtag #my1stexperiment going around. It’s a week focused on celebrating science and getting young children to explore it. To get in the spirit, I thought I’d tell you how I got into science in the first place.

I’m going to be honest I can’t really remember when I first became interested Biology, as a child I was always into nature and spent my weekends in the woods with my sister catching frogs and bugs. I had loads of pets, rabbits, guinea pigs, stick insects and I was a complete and utter know-it-all, I wanted to know as much as I could about the world around me. As for my first experiment, I have a feeling it had something to do with growing cress on a cotton wool pad in year 3.

As I got older I got even more into science, careers wise I thought about choosing medicine or Veterinary school, but having two doctors for parents put me off medicine, and I fainted when I saw a Great Dane get neutered on my week of work experience at the vets. In the end I chose biology because I was good at it, I liked it and because I never got over the neutering incident.

It turns out that Biology is a know-it-all’s subject, I have a memory like a sponge and I could reel off facts about living things for hours even though I can’t remember what I did on Tuesday night (but I think that can be excused as it was St. Paddy’s day). I don’t think you really know what biology is until you actually go to uni, but I guess that is the case with any degree. School gives you the basics, explaining photosynthesis and basic anatomy. Uni shows you that biology is the study of everything from animals, plant, bugs, to bacteria, proteins and genes you name it I’ve studied it. It is a subject that broadens your mind and makes you think in a completely different way, and if you are coming here to study it you are very lucky, you’ve got a brilliant three years ahead of you.

And now I’m here in my final year, last week I had the last lecture of my undergraduate degree, I’m finishing up my project, and I had my last shift as a student ambassador. I was always told uni would fly by, but I don’t think I quite believed it until now. As for my first experiment, the cress experiment obviously had an impact on me because I’ve specialised in Plant Science and Microbiology. I even have plants in my room at uni.

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I named him Carl, and I am very surprised he is not dead yet

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Eleanor’s Final Year Blog: EXAMS

Welcome back guys,

Well, here we are again, and it feels like I just wrote my last post yesterday. Christmas is over, New years has long gone, and we are already one month into 2015. During January, Manchester can be a tense time to be a student. Exam season looms over everyone, the Library is packed with hundreds of frantically revising students and to top it off, the weather is absolutely rubbish (but Manchester has never been famous for it’s sunny days anyway).

Understandably, everyone can get a little stressed over exam season; I can say that I have gotten quite nervous about exams in the past. But after three years, I am now a seasoned exam veteran so here are some exam tips that I have picked up along the way.

1. DO- try new revision methods. Uni exams can be a lot different to school exams: there isn’t always a strict syllabus, the content is more in-depth, and a life sciences is filled with weird theories and names you have to remember. Everyone’s memory is different and the trusty revision methods you might have always followed at school, might no longer be as good. Don’t be scared of trying new revision methods, whether that be flashcards, mind-maps, colour coding, typed notes, written notes, you name it, and I’ve tried it. Find a method that works for you and it can make a huge difference in the amount you remember.

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Eleanor’s Final Year Blog: Christmas in Manchester

So here we are at the end of first semester, I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly but I guess time flies when you’re having fun right. Since my last post I’ve pretty much been busy non-stop, finishing off essays, fulfilling bridesmaid duties and trying to sort out Christmas presents (which isn’t the easiest thing to do on a student budget). I have also been doing pretty much anything at all to put off revision. That being said, with all the chaos, Manchester has still managed to give me that Christmassy feeling.

There is something special about Christmas in Manchester, everyone properly goes full force in the Christmas spirit department. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Christmas jumpers worn collectively as I have in Sainsburys in Fallowfield and the festive club nights, socials and faculty parties make it quite difficult to be a scrooge.

Like most student houses in Manchester, last week my housemates and I cooked Christmas dinner together. Well when I say I cooked I actually snuck off to work and reaped the rewards of my housemates’ solid effort (but I did make the gravy, so that has got to count for something). As this year marks the third year of my housemates putting a Christmas dinner together, I have to say it went pretty smoothly, and unlike previous years we only managed to burn the odd parsnip.
Although my student Christmas dinner is significantly boozier than my family dinner back in Wales, one thing is pretty clear, the friends you make at uni become your second family. Coming to university was a bit of a scary premise, and moving from a small town I did worry that I was going to feel quite lonely in a big alien city. But I can honestly say that as I sat at the table, drunkenly giggling away and playing cards against humanity with my friends that I’ve known since the first night of fresher’s, I couldn’t have been any happier (although I could have been a bit warmer…. student house problems).

Of course, no Christmas in Manchester is complete without a trip to the Christmas markets. Expanding every year due their popularity, the markets consist of little German style log cabins that sell anything from jewellery to decorations, to mulled cider. They also sell, hands down, the best Dutch pancakes I have ever eaten, ever, like seriously they are really good.

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It ‘s probably worth a trip just to eat these.

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